The Importance of Using Hashtags in Social Media

Before Chris Messina brought the hashtag to Twitter in 2007 to help users find specific groups or conversations on the platform, the symbol was used just for categorizing content or searching for files online.

Fast-forward 13 years, and the hashtag is now used across social media platforms to follow conversations and make connections. Yet, many organizations and brands still do not include hashtags in their social media efforts.

In today’s digital world, hashtags provide invaluable benefits and are a necessary part of every online marketing strategy.

1. Greater Audience Reach

Platforms such as Twitter and Instagram curate feeds so those who don’t follow you never see your content. Therefore, your posts have a limited organic reach. That is, unless you implement hashtags within your content.

With hashtags, both current followers and new audiences will find your content when searching for or following a particular hashtag on the platform.

For instance, let’s imagine you run a bakery that specializes in cupcakes. You post a picture of a cupcake tower you completed for a wedding, and use the hashtags #cupcakes and #cupcaketower. As of this moment, #cupcakes has been used in 22.1 million posts and #cupcaketower has been used 42,400 times.

Since you included these hashtags in your post, thousands of people who are searching for and/or interacting with these hashtags could view your work.

2. Brand Awareness

By growing your online audience, you are simultaneously generating more awareness for your brand.

Returning to the cupcake example, by including those two hashtags in your post copy, your brand is now in front of thousands upon thousands of people who had never heard of your brand before.

Additionally, brands can create specific hashtags to amplify their content and encourage audiences to chime into the conversation.

Some of the best branded hashtags include #ShareACoke from Coca-Cola, #DoMeAFlavor by Lays, and #ShareYourEars by Disney and Make-a-Wish.

Not only did these hashtags garner millions of likes, shares, and comments for each brand, but they also connected fans around the world and sparked conversations around the campaigns.

3. Campaign and Event Tracking

All marketers know the frustrations of campaign tracking.

By using a specific branded social media hashtag, you can easily track the quantitative and qualitative success of your efforts. The top hashtag tracking tools include:

Leverage these tools to monitor the average usage and conversational context of your hashtags.

Additionally, if your brand is hosting an online or in-person event, use hashtags to track social media conversations around the event. Conferences and festivals such as SXSW and CES use hashtags to track metrics such as attendee satisfaction and engagement. Your brand can also use event hashtags to compile content created by attendees for social media posts.

4. Competitor and Audience Research

Wondering what’s going on in your industry? Curious about which hashtags your audience interacts with the most? Tracking specific hashtags is the perfect way to conduct competitor and audience research on social media

Simply search for a hashtag on a social media platform, or use a hashtag tool, and get a glimpse at everything going on around that topic. Use the quantitative and qualitative data you find to inform social media posts and marketing decisions.

Do Hashtags Influence Search Rankings?

While hashtags play an important role in social media, you might wonder whether or not hashtags affect your SEO efforts as well.

It’s been proven time and time again that hashtags are not an algorithmic search ranking factor.

Although hashtags are not a direct ranking factor, they do increase your brand awareness and audience, and drive more users to your website. As users spend more time on your website and interact with your content, search engines will notice the uptick in traffic and time spent on site—both of which are ranking factors.

Keep an eye on your social media and SEO metrics to determine any correlation between your hashtag usage and improved website or ranking analytics.

Hashtags: Looking to the Future

What was once an optional convenience is now a must in the social media world. Your brand needs to adopt a strong hashtag strategy to compete in today’s competitive online market. Let the team at REQ show you how to best find and implement hashtags into your social media strategy.


Let’s talk.